Captain (Louis) Ferdinand Ferber (1862- 1909)
Perhaps best described as an important
failure, Ferber was born in Lyon and entered the Ecole Polytechnique in
He joined the Army and rose through the military ranks as an artillery
officer, eventually commanding the Alpine Artillery Battery at Nice.
Ferber began emulating Lilienthal's (qv) experiments in 1899. His approach
was often haphazard and his machines were poorly made.
In 1901 Ferber wrote to Octave Chanute (qv) who replied in early 1902 with
descriptions and illustrations of the Wright brothers' (qv) gliders and
their wing warping technique. Ferber immediately replaced the Lilienthal
wing with a biplane type, but due to poor construction, the new glider
achieved little success.
Ferber's importance is due to the example he set for other Europeans,
particularly French experimenters. He continued to experiment when most
others had given up. He introduced Chanute to French aviation circles and
Chanute made them familiar with the Wright brothers' work. Ferber
influenced Archdeacon (qv), Voisin (qv) and thus the entire French
Although he never built a successful plane by himself, he did aid somewhat
in the design of the Antoinette. During 1909 he competed at Rheims under
the pseudonym 'de rue'. He won several minor competitions but on 19
September 1909 lost his life in a crash at Boulogne.